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Tony Danza Education. (2012) 'I'd Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High.'




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Philadelphia 6, Ms. Carroll 4, Texas 3, Tony Danza 2, Philly 2, New York City 2, New York 2, Us 2, Buber 1, Johnson 1, Chuck Carr 1, Michael Gillett 1, Douglas Brinkley 1, Walter Cronkite 1, Adb 1, Viacom 1, The City 1, Charlemagne 1, Saab 1, Abc 1,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Tony Danza  Education.  (2012) 'I'd Like to Apologize to  
   Every Teacher I Ever Had My Year as a Rookie Teacher at...  

    October 27, 2012
    9:15 - 10:00am EDT  

watch for the authors in the coming future in booktv and on this weekend c-span2's booktv starts in austin, texas for live coverage of the seventeenth annual texas book festival. to date, and:00 to 6:00 eastern hear from david westin on his 13 years in the network news network, douglas brinkley on walter cronkite and michael gillett on lbj and lady bird johnson and sunday noon to 6 h w brand on ulysses s. grant, at the mexico drug cartel and margaret draper inside the house of representatives. the texas book festival live this weekend on booktv on c-span2. now on booktv actor tony danza recounts the year he spent teaching tenth grade english in philadelphia's largest bicycle. the author before becoming an actor wanted to be a teacher,
recalls the initial troubles he had engaging his students and his later breakthroughs. this is 45 minutes. [applause] >> hello, everyone. white neck. what are we going to do? i can't believe when i am standing backstage listening to carol say those things about me, i want you to know, by the way, the cameras in january, i want you to see, i thought i had figured out a way to make teaching a. make it a tv job.
i could be a teacher and her tv job. they left in january and by was a real teacher. i went listening to ms. carroll say those things to me. the greatest compliment at the end of the year, i had gone through this journey with her and i am reading yours, she asked me what i consider coming back, i thought was the greatest compliment, but i said to her at my age i am not sure i want to care this much about anything. i just want to thank you all for being here. and writing this book, seeing a lot of teachers, i accept your
apology. everywhere i go people are going i accept. i realize, i did do a year. i stayed the year, no small feat for those of you -- there are a lot of teachers here but it is 181 days, not that i was counting, but the funny thing about being a teacher is snow days are bad. remember when snow days are good? you lose your momentum. they come back like they haven't been there. i digress. what i was going to say was i did do a year and sometimes people go a whole year but when you see the commitment of other people, commitment, one of the
things, and many buber -- baby boomers teachers are retiring, and and some of the teachers who were there, would have been a different experience, there's a guy in the school, chuck carr, very skeptical of about me. sitting in my room, a big guy, white hair, a bunch of books, he says hello, hello. are you here to act the teacher or be the teacher? i just got here. at the end of the year we were walking down the hall and he was coming back and decided not to put in his papers to retire and decided not to retire and i asked him why you are coming
back and he said maybe this year i will get it right. 37 years. i do feel they little pretentious that i should be the one talking about this because i was only there for one year but that one year was quite a journey. it really was. it is great to be back in philly. can't wait to get my cheese steak. this cow is a good principle and for those of you teaching you know how important it is to have a good principal. rate. so what i should do is tell you how this all started so you get an idea what i was thinking. i was closing in on 60. that is over the speed limit. closing in on 60 i had just gotten fired. i had a show in new york, in
philly, thanks, mom. i was heartbroken. i really was. i really was thinking maybe i should think about something else. i started thinking i am 60. what should i do with the rest of my life. i went to school to be a teacher and didn't do it and my life went on and when i had my first pro fight and my mother spent all that money sending me to college to be a teacher and i was fighting, are you out of your mind? then i told her i was going to be a cabdriver and she said are you crazy? then i got a taxi and she changed her mind. i was feeling down and feeling sorry for myself. i had this thing about teaching. it had been in my mind long
time. anyone who watched "who's the boss?". [applause] >> thank you very much. it is so cool to have that. tammy became a teacher. my character became a teacher. that was no accident. it has been something that was on my mind. like most americans, worried about education in america. every president as long as i can remember has been the education president. he is going to be the guy. i wanted to fulfill that thing. i have another thing. arthur miller said the best thing you can hope for is the end up with the right regrets. i have this regret, one of my regrets that i was not the best
student. i didn't understand the teacher was trying real hard and that was his life for her life's work and i was one of those guys who tried to jar my way through and do as little as possible to get by. if i spend as much time studying as a did conniving i would have been all right. i have that regret too and it is one of the things that we have to deal with now if we are going to fix education, the kids have to understand that this is a very important moment in their lives and it is not like it was when i was a kid that you could fool around. i got lucky but even if you didn't, in those days you could get an assembly line jobs and have a middle-class life because the country would give you that but that is not the way it is anymore. let me cut to the chase of how i
got here. this is what is important. i don't think until we can convince the kids weekend once more for them than they want for themselves, it is almost like you need a national campaign of some kind akin to the way we change the attitude of the country about smoking or drunk driving. in that way we have to convince the kids, i had -- gave one detention and the kids wanted me to give the detention. what kids want to see the bad kids get punished? they can figure it out. i had a couple girls say to me you've got to grow some balls.
[laughter] >> as a teacher you are aware you don't want to come down on them because you might lose them even worse. you try to find that sweet spot. the day came finally, the second semester, her name was charlemagne. she was a great kid and a great students and other times she was the maniac. in comes in late and i told her don't be late and she disrupts the class. i pulled the trigger. i said that is a pink slip. she gave me something back and i gave it back and that was it and fill out the pink slip and sent it down. that is the tension. i didn't know i had to be there. [laughter] don't they just go to some
detention place? anyway she meets me at 7:15 in the morning and we talk and i was constantly trying to beat this in. i wanted them to learn from my mistake. you can be a good student and have fun. it is not mutually exclusive. you don't have to be one or the other. i had a big sign, put the big sign up take part in your own education, tried to drill this in. this is what i was missing. so i said to her how long do you think you are going to be in school? she goes forever. i said no you are not. here is your life. this much is school. you don't want to be over here looking back saying i wish i would have done better.
what happens here is going to affect the rest of your life. you have to understand that. i don't know in this culture, we have this crazy culture that sends messages to the kids every day that are antithetical to education and undermine education. you tell kids -- i tell kids good behavior and hard work will pay off. they go watch jersey shore and you are wrong. here is the problem. i was talking to a very wealthy woman, old money. you went to work on jersey shore. i don't know why she picked on me, italian, i don't know. cheese says i hate the people on that show. i got no love lost for the people on that show but if i was 22 and you told me go to the beach and act and i will pay you egg -- i would be afraid of footage. so i said to her i got no love
lost for those kids but how do you feel about the suits that you were with last night that you had dinner with that making billions putting this on the shore and making billions of dollars off of it? one of my friends from viacom made $84 million last year. ms. carroll will cut $2 million out of her school. something is wrong with this, made $84 million on the back of mob wives. [applause] and believe me, i know there are bad teachers. there are bad actors. but i saw more discouraged teachers. the [applause] and the statistics bear it out.
crazy. 30% after four years, to the present after five years quit. just as they get good, got to get out of here. all of that, that is my solution. don't know how you implement it. how about the message you send kids, they walked into -- a great school, looks great and everything else but you know how they look, and they are told this is really important, this is important and they go to the mall and see what that looks like. this is important. that is the thing. these messages, we got to send this other message and that is what teachers are trying to do and what i try to do. i don't know, considering the environment we live in i don't know how to do that. for me this was a journey, once
the cameras left was really funny. i thought i was going to lose my authority. i was afraid i would lose my authority once i didn't have cameras but once they were gone it was so liberating it was -- second semester was much better than the first semester. everybody is much more comfortable. i said -- -- writing some teacher jokes. some of the terms, organizers, collaborative teaching, modeling and somebody told me i needed a diagram. i heard that and made a doctor's appointment. sorry. the second part of this journey
was writing the book. almost as hard as teaching. i wrote a cookbook with my son. i like to call it a memoir cookbook because my son was born when i was 19. he got to grow up with my uncles and grandparents and he and i wrote this book and wrote stories about the uncles and aunts and that is very nice and it is called don't fill up on the antipasto. we picked up stories to the recipes. this was like writing a book and not fully that but it is the same kind of responsibility that the teacher, here's another thing we don't talk about teachers, you have a job to do but it also has -- the weight of the future of the children.
you mess up that day, they don't get that day back. the only tenth grade we are going to get. for people who saw the show i did a lot of crying. at first i was crying because i was scared. i thought i bit off more than i could chew and can't do this but i started crying because they broke my heart or made my heart soar. was one or the other. they do that to you. okay. i wanted to write the book to tell the story of the rest of it and to talk about what i see, what i saw and some issues. it is not a book that preaches but it listens to people in the book. i kept very good records. i kept a journal and had some video and lesson plans. i am pretty close to what happened and we discuss a lot of the issues in the book. lot has changed since i was
here. in two years, my kids graduated, i was the commencement speaker which was cool like of philadelphia schools, dealing with budget cuts. she mentioned the fund-raiser we did, teachers versus student talent show. it is great. the reason that it worked is they had laid off one of the school nurse's because of budget cuts. bad enough waiting off the june teacher, the art teacher, the shop teacher, but the school nurse? it is all terrible. don't mean to make less of the other but we went on television and a little promotion and it was very different from when i was here. we did promotion last time and went on tv and had a good crowd
but this time i mentioned the school nurse, over 2,000 people came out. it was unbelievable. dealing with this kind of change, it was hard enough then. can't imagine taking more out of the budget. i am a union guy. [applause] my father was a garbage man for the city and i have been in the screen actors guild for 35 years myself. i just don't count on the benevolence of companies. we have to be together. [applause] i am a big supporter of public education in that it is a -- it is a leavening. it levels the field for all of us so we all did it together. instead of us being more and more chopped up into little
groups 40 schools and 64 and privatize, don't get me wrong, i want every kid to have a good teacher and be in a great school and i want them to want to learn, but the way this looks to me and i am calling it as i see it, looks like the forerunner of the two tier system where you are going to have one group, the haves and the kids with motivated parents and motivated students in one school and the poorest and least motivated kids with -- by the way, here is another thing. that is one of my problems. i talked too much and have adb. you have to tell the kids that in spite of formidable and
legitimate obstacles, no matter what they are, whether it is poverty, violence, no home, no parents, bad parents, bad teacher, bad schools, you still have to make this piece of your life work because otherwise in 20 years, won't say he had a bad teacher, it doesn't work that way. that is what we have to make the understand and that is what is in the book. i will just wrap this up. i feel the oak. anyway, i want to thank you so much. i wrote 90,000 words just so you get an idea what this is like a. i wanted to write this book and it was painful. it really was. i found a book about writing
called first you fix the refrigerator. you will do anything rather than sit down -- i will fix the refrigerator. i wrote 90,000 words. some of my friends are saying you wrote a book? give me a break. i want to be honest. i had some help. i handed in my manuscripts, so proud, it was an amazing feeling to push the send button. you know how i started doing it? i was getting so distracted by would go to sleep at 7:00 and we a cup at 2:00 and write until 6:00 and go to the gym and work out and go with is that? i wrote 97 words -- 90,000 words and the publisher random house said we have to get you an editor. they got me this wonderful woman who really helped me and somehow
she found 70,000 pretty good words in their. that is how i got the book. thank you for coming. we will spend some time together. i hope you enjoyed. i do apologize to every teacher i ever had. [applause] >> the way we originally set this up was we passed out note cards but tony wanted to do it more impromptu. it will keep it alive. you have to stand at the microphone or they will not hear it. if you raise your hand we will get a microphone to you. try to do as many as we can. we only have 20 minutes. that guy over there. >> he is in the book.
>> when i was subbing i had a class and asked the kids about you and the reaction was -- the other thing when i was in your show and made a fool of myself, you had the decency to send your card and thank me. i really fries that. >> he was great in the talent show. >> central dancing. i saying which was a big mistake. [applause] >> next question in the second row. lady with her hands up. >> you said you cried a lot. some sadness and all the things that move you. what was the most moving
experience for you? >> there were so many because the kids -- there were times they just put a stake in your heart and other times, looked like he immediately after when they turn it around and you just did this to me. this is in the book. i had a poetry contest. i wanted the kids to write a poem. a couple teachers in the school memorize the poem when they were in school and brought them up and showed the kids. it is about memorizing the poem. had to be ten lines long and the only prerequisite was we had to make a poster board with some historical context, biography, figurative language to give some depth to it but they had to memorize the poem and performing in front of the class. i made it a big finger.
the big advantage being a rich teacher is i could get prizes. first prize was a flip cam and $10. second prize was $8. of big drop off. i gave them time to write a poem and i can learn a poem in one night. they pick the poem and i learned 32 lines in one night. keep your head about you -- any way. any way. part of the commencement i did the old poem. kids were like this guy is crazy. there was one girl in the class who was a challenge. a real challenge.
beautiful but a challenge. and in the blood because this is the thing. you got this class and they all have lives and all this stuff is going on. i have been doing -- people say what is the hardest thing about being a teacher? let's start with 150 teenagers. people say 150 students it sounds almost okay. you say teenagers, i get that. anyway, she was the challenge. i had to stay out of her way. it was really something. she sat in the back, this guy emanual bucci drove crazy and it was like 20 minutes to memorize poems and have a contest. i was walking around looking at what poem and looked over her shoulder and her poem was about a deadbeat father, an absent
father. you weren't there. it just kept me. it crystallized, who knows what she is going through? i have daughters. i go like this, up the aisle and from behind i hear are you crying? [laughter] no, i am not trying. the other kid, another kid, this great kids as you are at a crybaby. so i turned on them. i am not crying. this is why we read poetry. to field, get in touch with the way we feel. i want to be touched. that is why we read poetry. now contest comes. she gets up.
she gets up. really into it. she gets the manual to hold the poster board for her and she starts. i can't remember the words but she gets maybe two or three lines in and she stops and you think she forgot. all of a sudden she just dissolves into tears. she starts sobbing and she runs out into the hallway. by the way this girl beat up everybody in the classroom and now she is crying. she is out in the hall. i will be right back. a teacher can never have too many tissues. i go into the hallway and she is -- like this. i said don't you see? this is what we read poetry for. get in touch with our feelings and isn't it wonderful you found a poem that touches you? you want to go back inside?
i got to get gangster. okay. i don't care how you do it. let's go do it. we go inside and she starts again. take 2 and i do the whole thing, direct from the sands hotel, that thing. and she starts again and she starts to cry again. she did this thing that was so heartbreaking. geo opened her arms and looked up at the sky and she said why can't i say this phreaking home? and she runs out into the hallway again. this went on two or three times the we finally got her through the poems and i get an e-mail from her, that poem, she still knows that poem. [applause] >> the lady in blue.
>> i am trying not to cry. have to turn it in. i am a new teacher trying for two years. i am a product of the philadelphia school system. i care so much about it and want to do it but i have never been so stressed out and unhappy in my own private time. i love the classroom but i cry every weekend. i don't have a life. >> imagine if you get married. >> i don't think that is going to happen. >> what the you do then? >> i think i might be one of those people who has to walk away just to be happy. [talking over each other] >> we hate to lose you. >> i recognize -- >> here is the thing, i don't mean to cut you off. i get a letter from a guy once after the show was on for a couple weeks, from a teacher who said that he used to think he was the only one who cried and
he told me every day after school i closed the door of my class airmass sit at my desk and saab. i don't know -- you got to read the book because the only thing i can tell you is you are not alone. you are really not alone. [applause] >> it is a battle. the hope is it gets better. i don't know how it is going to get better. the other hope and here is the one thing i can give you that is also in the book. i am going to read you the whole book here. the teacher who taught at martin luther king and northeast over 30 years and incredible. anything you need for a
classroom, from magic pencils to a biking helmet, she has got it. she gave me on the way out at the end people were so nice to me. got to the point i had to get away. i just felt i didn't do that much. i felt so as i was walking out, we said goodbye to each other, i had to make a train and she handed me a box. so i got on the train and took it out. it was a little plaque with a scroll on it and it tells the story of a big storm that royals boeotian and watches 1,000 starfish on to the beach. the clouds break, the son comes out and starts to bake the
starfish. a guy comes walking along and doesn't know what to do and start picking them up and throwing them in the water. another guy says there are so many you are not making much of the difference. the guy picked up another one and says made a difference to that one. that is the only thing you are looking for. [applause] >> i am not shore i got any in the water but maybe a little closer. a little closer. i wish i could tell you more. i want to give you a raise right now. you know what i mean? >> a fellow with his hand up all the way on that side and we will start with this gentleman on the right. that gentleman. >> why philadelphia and why northeast high school? >> philadelphia because they let
me. northeast high school because they let me. actually i did have a choice. philadelphia -- champion the project and how i got here but he actually offered three schools. can't remember the third one. central? finesse. that is the one. and northeast and northeast was the most comprehensive. it was a big school with everything from magnet to special lead. just an incredible -- an organism. it is amazing. i just felt that was more representative snapshot of what i was thinking about. if that answers your question. >> much like you i got in the teaching business 15 years ago
after doing a lot of other things in the world and the reason was i was tired of blaming teachers and seeing what -- the job they have to do. it is not easy. i agree with you and are like your show and i hope i like your book just as well. >> i hope so too. >> my question is really i am wondering since you have experienced it and i have experienced it do you think if lot of people making decisions about our educational system, administrators and politicians and the like, if they were required to go out and do something similar -- a lot of them say they use to be teachers but i am always going okay. >> i tell you something. it is so bad. this is how bad it is. i was talking to one guy the other day about my book, one of
those shows, the view or something, try doing that show. thank you very much. this guy says to me, my wife is at teacher, been teaching 15 years. i hope she likes the book. it is a tough job. come on, just had ten weeks off. that is the husband of the teacher. if the husband of the teacher, you know what i mean? you are right. as simple as that. how i got talked into the reality show, i had no use for reality. no time for that baloney. my argument was the reason it wouldn't work is is it as cross purposes. the tv show's purpose is
ratings. the teacher's purpose is the kids. they can't go together. that was the problem. they convinced me we could do it and to some degree we did. to some degree. but the thought was if we had a tv show that was inside a high school, that maybe it would give that kind of experience to people and have a wider impact. it only lasted six weeks. that makes it tough. >> we have time for one more. >> we get you. you are coming next. >> what is your next project? >> my next project. i am actually working on, this is crazy, in the early stages but i am working on a new sitcom for abc. i want to do -- i am of a certain age, i want to do a show like the golden girls but guys.
[applause] i want to discuss that kind of stuff. one more little crazy thing. i have this dear friend of mine who passed away named elaine kaufman who ran a restaurant in new york called the main's and it is gone. the refugees were all over the. i am thinking about trying to open west side, on the west side, it is elaine's west side but they will sue me. they will rename it tony's and i will have a hit. this gentleman right there. yes?
it is the shirt. >> have you discovered the secret of motivating the unmotivated? >> the only tool you have is persistence, the only tool you have, the other tool, one other tool is your enthusiasm and excitement for the stuff you teach. if i am excited about it, they are excited about it. the other thing i try to do because of how i felt about my own experience was try to connect everything to their lives. if i am teaching julius caesar and telling them they should understand a little bit of your life is so important, brutus says to cassie is when they are going to fight anthony, the affairs of men there is a tied for fortune, omitted, the rest of his life, misery's.
do you understand that? that is the kind of thing. i had a particularly challenging kid, miss carroll knows him. i just wouldn't give up on him. i mean it. not really jail but -- goes back to the young lady's question. it is so tough. how do you do that? it is a calling. here is the beauty. i will tell you this story and finish. it is in the book, a chance to take the kids to new york city. we are having this trip and all
of a sudden it is not only new york city but west side story and go to my friend's restaurant with frank sinatra and take kids to this fancy italian restaurant and west side story so people started, teachers wanted to the chaperones. by the time we had three students, i got a message that ms. carroll wanted us to come on the trip, the principal wanted us to come on the trip. listen -- and most of them, i
want to know ms. carroll wants to go -- not the principal. okay. this is a perfect opportunity to teach you a life lesson that will serve you well. it is called making the best of a bad situation. chance it alone and making the best of it. she is going. we can handle one of two ways. hurt their feelings and a hell of a memory. or we could write a note saying
we won't go without you and a friend in the principal's office. what do you think? that took awhile. to answered -- months later -- by the way it came up in mockingbird the lesson comes up again. months later i am sitting in class grading papers, all of a sudden a kid walks in, mr. danza, i quoted you today. you quoted me? what did you say? i told my friend make the best of a bad situation. thank you very much. the [applause] >> for more information about tony danza and his book visit tony this weekend c-sn2